The inspiration for The Wort Hotel originated with Charles J. Wort, a homesteader who arrived in Jackson Hole in 1893. It wasn’t until 1941 though that it opened its doors. Today, the Wort Hotel continues to be a favorite. Every Tuesday night – bluegrass night – the dance floor is crowded with local cowboys and visitors dancing the two-step. We interviewed Nancy Takeda, the longest standing Wort Hotel employee.
Nancy started working for the Wort in 1963 bussing dishes in the Alpine Dining Room over Christmas vacation. She was just 13-years-old. Since then, her jobs have included waitress, cashier, hostess, cook, dishwasher, and gift shop attendee. She has booked events, prepared for banquets, and even served as the General Manager for two and a half weeks!
When asked about her most memorable day at the Wort, she immediately stated, “August 5, 1980.” This is a day that stands apart for many Jackson locals. Nancy said, “At about 6:57 in the evening columns of smoke and flames leaped from the hotel's roof because of a fire that started from a bird’s nest that had been built on a transformer. The roof was shake shingle, so it just went. The fire burned into the night, collapsing the roof.” She remembers that the sight of the fire damage shocked people, including ranch hand Bob Crisp who “stopped dead on the sidewalk, gasped, and then sobbed.”
But, Nancy remembers, “Days after the fire, we put a sign up pronouncing ‘We'll be back.’”
Thankfully for Jackson, the Wort Hotel and Silver Dollar Bar reopened in 1981 complete with the famous Silver Dollar Bar featuring the 2,032 Morgan Silver Dollars that was stored at Jackson State Bank during the renovation. The Wort has only picked up steam since then with regular updates and improvements. The Silver Dollar Showroom was added in 2015 in order to welcome more live music and provide more space for dancing.
Are you planning a visit? Be sure to walk through the hallways between the lobby, the restaurant, and the bar to see photos. Nancy says that her favorite photos are the entertainers She recommends that visitors look for the photo of a guy in a starched shirt with a skinny black tie and short hair. Most people don’t realize that it’s Willie Nelson! She also recommends taking time to appreciate the Grand Staircase. She says it “has many stories to tell” and that “its stair treads have seen the likes of Harrison Ford, Don Johnson, Carrie Fischer, Wilford Brimley, Ernie Ford, and Dick Cheney. Over the holidays it’s the most beautiful thing.”
Learn more about the Historic Wort Hotel at www.worthotel.com.
Are you curious to hear about Jackson Hole’s fascinating stories? Be sure to visit the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum. Historical walking tours are available regularly during the summer season and visitors will find a wide array of books about the history of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Old West! Learn more at jacksonholehistory.org.
This story is a part of #humansofjhchamber: The campaign places a focus on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why they got started in their industry, and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram, @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Director of Membership, Elisabeth Rohrbach, email@example.com or 307.201.2301.